Members of an Iranian heavy metal band called Arsames have fled their homeland after they were sentenced to 15 years in prison for playing "Satanic" music.
They were arrested three years ago and later freed on bail and sentenced late last month, reports Rock music site Loudwire. In a statement issued to the website, the band objected to the accusations that they are Satanists, "Our music is about our past culture and history. They think when we growl and play fast music we are into Satanism! The skulls on our t-shirts means the same for them as satanic musicians."
Arsames continue: "We were arrested in 2017 when we were in our studio during rehearsal. They moved us to jail that day and didn't tell our families about where we were for a week."
"Finally, nearly a month later, we paid bail to come out of prison and they told us we should not work, release or sell merch [merchandise] until the final court appearance… and not to talk with the media."
"Our Instagram page and official website were banned and shut down for a year, but we built a new Instagram and started to be active until few weeks ago when the court called us again and gave us 15 years in prison. So we had to escape from Iran."
Earlier this week, the band released a short video asking: "Is it a crime that we are playing metal music? Is it a crime that we are talking about Persian history? Is it a crime that you think we are into Satanism when we have songs about Cyrus The Great and Monotheism? Is it a crime that we love music and our country?"
The musical genre is considered to be a violation of the Islamic Republic's strict laws on blasphemy. Last year the metal band duo, Confess were sentenced to over 14 years in prison and 74 lashes after being arrested in 2015 and faced with charges including blasphemy and writing anti-religious and political lyrics. They are said to have dodged the death sentence and were thrown in solitary confinement. After release pending sentencing, however, the pair fled to Turkey and currently reside in Norway after eventually being granted asylum.